I had no idea what to expect when I agreed to read and review this compilation of short stories. I didn't expect to be enthralled with each and every one of these what can only be called parables. According to the definition in Wikipedia the Characteristics of Parables are
" A parable is a short tale that illustrates a universal truth; it is a simple narrative. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results. It may sometimes be distinguished from similar narrative types, such as the allegory and the apologue.
A parable often involves a character who faces a moral dilemma or one who makes a bad decision and then suffers the unintended consequences. Although the meaning of a parable is often not explicitly stated, it is not intended to be hidden or secret but, on the contrary, quite straightforward and obvious.
The defining characteristic of the parable is the presence of a subtext suggesting how a person should behave or what he should believe. Aside from providing guidance and suggestions for proper conduct in one's life, parables frequently use metaphorical language which allows people to more easily discuss difficult or complex ideas. Parables express an abstract argument by means of using a concrete narrative which is easily understood.
The allegory is a more general narrative type; it also employs metaphor. Like the parable, the allegory makes a single, unambiguous point. An allegory may have multiple noncontradictory interpretations and may also have implications that are ambiguous or hard to interpret. As H.W. Fowler put it, the object of both parable and allegory "is to enlighten the hearer by submitting to him a case in which he has apparently no direct concern, and upon which therefore a disinterested judgment may be elicited from him, ..." The parable is more condensed than the allegory: it rests upon a single principle and a single moral, and it is intended that the reader or listener shall conclude that the moral applies equally well to his own concerns."
Each and every one of these tales uses cause and effect to make it's point and does it succinctly and well. This writer knows how to write a short story which is also a parable-it is rare that I can get into them the way I did these. All I can tell you is that I will be going back to re read many if not most of these time and again. There is much to be learned about life and how you should live it no matter the religion you follow!
In this eloquent collection of stories twelve different people from different walks of life discover how one chance meeting with a stranger can change a person forever. Madhu B. Wangu draws from her own Indian-American heritage and examines the lives of ordinary people facing challenging circumstances—cruelty, prejudiced minds, twisted family relationships, unhappy marriages—and demonstrates how these situations transcend ethnicity and background as interactions with strangers force each character to look deep within themselves, often acknowledging painful truths and long-held secrets, in order to seize control of their own destinies and forge their own paths to independence and happiness.
Madhu Bazaz Wangu poignantly weaves a universal message that ties the characters in these stories together, one that applies to anyone who has experienced poverty, jealousy, fear, prejudice, disillusionment, and above all, the feeling of being a foreigner, even within one’s own family.
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"Beautiful, lush, lyrical stories and rhythmic language transports and transforms--each story is an unforgettable journey." - Kathleen Shoop, IPPY Award-Winning Author of The Last Letter and After the Fog
"A skilled practitioner, Madhu B. Wangu, writes from the marrow of her bones. In her collection, she conjures dream-like motifs of goodness, guidance, and the human condition. Her writing, infused with echoes of Hindu and Buddhist myths, is deeply satisfying and transformative." - Gwyn Cready, RITA Award Winning Author
"Chance Meetings is an evocative and thought-provoking collection: A delicious blending of cultures, delicately rendered and rich with sensory detail." Meredith Mileti, Author of Aftertaste
Secret Healer: One small town boy’s journey from the innocence of childhood to the injustices of servitude before finding shelter with an old man.
Cadmium and Crimson: Two sculptors, one goal—to make masterpieces in three dimensions. The older dedicates his life to art and his younger contemporary to success. Where do their intentions lead them?
Blackened Mirror: A successful artist discovers his authentic self.
A Chance Meeting: A young man treats a total stranger the way he wants to be treated without expecting anything in return to amazing effect.
Yellow Jacket: The protagonist is unable to resolve the guilt caused by the jealousy toward his younger brother as a result of his sudden death.
The Thug: In an intense, frightful hour, a woman realizes the folly of gossip.
A Precious Gift: After her son’s death, a distraught woman learns from her old mother how to cope with loss.
An American Dialogue
A synchronic event changes a prejudiced woman’s beliefs about a man from a religion other than her own.
Darkness Behind Eyes: At the age of seventy-two, the deep driving desire of a woman who has wanted to learn to read since her teen years helps her achieve her goal.
Gauri’s Freedom: An arranged marriage dramatically alters a young woman’s plans for her life until she meets another woman by chance who inspires her to take her life into her own hands through determination and self-sufficiency.
Cycle of Life: A young, idealistic woman learns why and how life goes on despite suffering, anguish and physical pain.
Portable Shrine: A writer discovers she is capable of more than she thought through the life lessons learned by the characters in her novel.
Read an excerpt HERE
About the author
A Historian of Asian Religions and Indian Art, Madhu B. Wangu taught Hindu and Buddhist art at Wheaton College, Wellesley, University of Rhode Island and University of Pittsburgh. She has published four non-fiction books and numerous essays in scholarly anthologies. “Chance Meetings” is her debut story collection.
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